Five Steps to Maximize Your Relational Footprint

Here’s a riddle for you? What do carbon emissions and marriage have in common?

The answer…they both leave a footprint, one that will outlast your years here on earth. In a real sense, footprints are what each of us leaves behind when we move on. Whether positive or negative it is our legacy, an indelible reminder that we were there.

Scientists increasingly admonish us to be more considerate of the impact that our individual behaviors (e.g., electricity usage, transportation emissions, and waste management) have on the health of our planet. Though I admittedly feel as if some of their worries are overblown, there is no question that we humans have to become more responsible for our carbon footprint–our impact on the earth for future generations.The premise of course is that our responsibility is to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible in order to preserve our earthly home for future generations.

However, as I listened to one of these environmental debates, I began to think about the imprint that we leave in other domains as well–particularly in relational areas.

I wonder what is my relational footprint? In other words, what impact are my marriage, parenting, and friendships having on people that I know as well as those whom I will never meet now or in the future. Contrary to the interest in minimizing one’s carbon footprint, the objective is to leave as large a relational footprint as possible in order to positively influence individuals and communities for future generations.